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Up-regulation of PGC-1 in neurons protects against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Dang, C;Han, B;Li, Q;Han, R;Hao, J;

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and mitochondrial dysfunction are related to neuron loss in multiple sclerosis (MS). Although peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor- coactivator 1 (PGC-1) appears to play a key role in modulating levels of mitochondrial ROS, antioxidants, and uncoupling proteins (UCPs), and PGC-1 expression is reduced in the neocortex of patients with MS, it is unclear what its role is in neurons and in the manifestation of clinical symptoms of MS. Here, we show in wild-type (WT) experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mice that PGC-1 is decreased 13 d after EAE induction followed by a steady decline up to 20 d. These changes were accompanied by parallel alterations in levels of superoxide dismutase 2, peroxiredoxin 3, thioredoxin 2, UCP4, and UCP5. In transgenic (TG) mice with neuron-specific overexpression of PGC-1 (PGC-1f/fEno2-Cre), clinical symptoms after EAE induction were delayed and less severe than in WT mice. The degrees of apoptotic neuron loss and demyelination were also less severe in PGC-1-TG mice. Overexpression of PGC-1 in neuronal neuroblastoma spinal cord 34 cells subjected to EAE inflammatory conditions showed similar results to those obtained in vivo. RNA sequencing analysis showed that apoptotic processes were significantly enriched in the top 10 significant gene ontology (GO) terms of differentially expressed genes, and the apoptotic pathway was significantly enriched in Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis. Our findings indicate that up-regulation of neuronal PGC-1 protected neurons from apoptosis in EAE. Manipulating PGC-1 levels in MS may help stave off this devastating disease.-Dang, C., Han, B., Li, Q., Han, R., Hao, J. Up-regulation of PGC-1 in neurons protects against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.